I Don’t Have a Kindle, But Here Are Some Books to Check Out If You Do

At one point this weekend, my brother, my mother, and I all sat on the couch reading. My brother had a sci-fi novel on his kindle. My mother had just downloaded a free book for her ipad mini. I held a real nice trade paperback copy of Fire Upon the Deep by Vernor Vinge. I don’t own any sort of e-reader. Over the years I’ve watched even my most bookish friends acquire kindles. They usually receive it as a gift, but then find that they actually enjoy the device, or at least find it useful in certain circumstances. I’m not actively agin’ em; I recognize that they can be very useful for travel, or for getting a book right away, or for carrying lots of books with you at once. I even read most of Game of Thrones on my brother’s kindle while visiting him this spring, and nothing about the e-reader impeded my enjoyment of the text. And yet… I am against e-readers. I love books too much. I love their shapes and sizes and smells. I love how they feel in my hand, and how they look on my shelf. I love their covers, I love every nuance of their interior design. Every font choice and every margin size is meaningful, and all these aspects are lost in a digital conversion.

Lately, though, I do wish I had an e-reader, and for a very specific reason: I want to support self-published authors. While trawling the blogosphere, things pop up that look good. Sometimes you can even get past the first paragraph without choking on the bad writing. When I find a self-published book that feels like a real book, I want to read it. But here’s the issue: the kindle version of the book often costs between 3-5 dollars, while the hard copy, even a paperback, often costs as much as $20. Now, I am in a stage of my life right now where $20 is a lot of money. That’s a whole harp lesson, or nearly another month’s harp rental. It’s a whole 10% of a student loan payment. It’s half of what I owe the dentist for last month. It’s two hours of hard work. Basically, I don’t have $20 to spend on books right now, especially not multiple books. I do have a kindle reader for mac, but I don’t enjoy the experience of reading a book on my laptop. It feels illicit, somehow. If I want to read these self-published books as real books, with the amount of respect I would give to any published author, reading on the computer just doesn’t work for me.

So I wish I had en e-reader. I don’t, and due to afore-mentioned money concerns, I won’t have one anytime soon. Since I’m not purchasing and reading these books, I figured the least I could do is share them with you.

Imminent DangerImminent Danger: And How to Fly Straight Into It by Michelle Proulx

Discovered this via a link at Celeste DeWolfe‘s blog. It’s got a good cover, great reviews, and its first few pages are technically pristine. It’s a sci-fi space romp sort of thing, and it sounds like a lot of fun. (Author’s blog: Michelle Proulx)

 

 

Embers of GadrileneEmbers at Gadrilene by A. D. Trosper

Read a great review, and got curious; I do love a good dragon book. While the first few pages seemed a trifle melodramatic, they were also well-written, and totally hooked me. I want to see where this goes. (Author’s Blog: A.D. Trosper)

 

 

The LetterThe Letter by Kahtia Lontis

There’s actually a story behind this one, and you can read all the details at the author’s blog (http://abovetheseaoffog.com/a-tale-of-two-goats/ ) The author is trying to raise the money to travel overseas to meet her boyfriend. As much as my own experience has completely disenchanted me with the idea of online relationships, I’m still a romantic at heart. I find their story inspiring, I enjoy reading this lady’s blog, and I completely support overseas travel, so I want to help them fulfill their dream.  And, okay, I actually just realized I didn’t have a good excuse not to, and I went and bought the book. So far it is delightfully surreal, although it’s an epub file so I had to download a new program to read it. Also, the paragraphs don’t appear to be properly formatted, which is really too bad… but it’s a short book, and I think I can handle it for a 30 pages. Anyway, check it out—it’s a cool feeling to buy a book and know you’re funding someone’s dream in the process.

That’s it for today. Once again, I want to thank everyone who entered the Race to the 8th Contest. Thanks to last week, I am so close to being done with this stage of revision of Wanderlust. Also, I have not forgotten your prizes; I’ll update you on the status of those later this week.

Happy Tuesday!

-G

More Breadcrumbs: A Review

I found most of this review in my drafts, and thought it was too good not to post. It’s been almost two months since I actually read the book, though, which I first mentioned in this post.

Breadcrumbs by Anne Ursu

When you read books as a writer, there are some books that are very encouraging because you think, hey, I could do that. And then there are books that just make you want to cry because how could I ever write a thing so bright? You know you have some grasp of prose and rhythm, a certain understanding of words that allowed you to get this far, but could you possibly write a thing where nearly every sentence is the kind that pierces and burns?

These are the thoughts I had while reading Breadcrumbs by Anne Ursu. At least three sentences per page are absolute gems, or daggers. In Breadcrumbs Ursu references many favorite books for young people that the main character, Hazel, has read. Usually these sorts of references in a book make me cringe, because the book has not earned the right to talk about its betters. I feel that Breadcrumbs actually earned those references. While reading this book, I thought about reading it aloud. I thought about reading it to my children (after reading them Tolkien and Narnia and Wrinkle in Time and Potter and all those things it references).

The thing with Breadcrumbs is it’s exceptionally literary. It has all those connecty-bits, all those symbolism-things, all those deep-truthisms about childhood and growing up. It has… breadcrumbs of all the above, little pieces, interwoven thoughout everything.

In the interest of a fair review, I checked out some amazon.com reviews (if I ever get to be a famous writer, I am going to obsess over my reviews. I already read reviews of books I adore and get all angry at the bad ones). It has many many positive reviews… and a few really bad ones. The bad reviews’ main complaint seems to be that Hazel herself, and all the characters, aren’t very likable. Okay. Honestly? The words were so goddamn pretty all the time that I wasn’t thinking too much about Hazel and whether I liked her. The reviewers complain that she is self-centered, but isn’t everyone at that age? Isn’t everyone, ever? And I did like Hazel. I like Hazel in the narrative voice, loved it every time the narration switched to second person to portray her thoughts. I do think the most beautiful thing here  is the way Anne Ursu handles words, but for me that beauty extends generously, and is more than large enough to fill the main character and cover her thoughts and words.

Little Reviews

So I’ve schemed a scheme, and I’ve got a Big Thing coming up in a few days—big for me, anyway. I’ve been working hard to earn enough cash to enjoy the Big Thing, and I haven’t even had time to finish the post I’m writing about the wheres and the whys and what it means for Wanderlust. Right now, I just got home from eight hours of housepainting,  and I still have a list of things to do tonight: laundry, packing, cleaning, a little more painting, plus sorting out that real blog post, if I get a chance (I’d like to). I don’t have a lot else to give in the way of writing, so here’s what we’ll do: When I enter in a book at Goodreads, I like to write a quick review, a sort of off-the-cuff attempt to capture my impression of the book. Here’s what I thought of a few things I’ve read in the past few months, all books to which I gave five out of five stars.

The Mystery of Grace by Charles De Lint

This was really good. Shocking and heartbreaking, with just enough grit and grease to balance the themes of fantasy and faith. The Mystery of Grace is urban fantasy at its best.

 

 

 

Zombies vs Unicorns edited by Holly Black and Justine Larbalestier

This book contained many fun and diverting stories. A very good read to pass the time, and some of the stories were surprisingly deep and challenging. Personally, I liked the unicorn stories best (and found the arrogant tone of the pro-zombie editor a little tiresome. Yeah, you like zombies. Do you have to be so insulting about it?).

 

 

Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin

This is just as good as everyone says it is. Engaging and delightful and devastating, even if you thought you never wanted to start another one of those epic kingdom-building fantasy series again.

 

 

Pegasus by Robin McKinley

Robin McKinley has done it again. Those of us who played at pegasus-riding and My Little Pony in preschool may find it difficult to take a book titled ‘Pegasus’ seriously, but you can’t skip a book with the name Robin McKinley on it, and the sophisticated creatures in this book called pegasi may surprise you. Definitely give this book a read, but watch out for the cliffhanger ending. I can’t wait for the next book.